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JW Grandparents Who Shun Children Should Likewise be Banned from Contacting Grandchildren


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On 8/26/2018 at 10:50 AM, JW Insider said:

Maybe. To me it sounds like the original post is recommending that ex-JWs return evil for evil:

  • (Romans 12:17-21) 17 Return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says Jehovah.” 20 But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals on his head.” 21 Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.

What some Witnesses do under the supposed umbrella of "tough love" is actually "evil" in the sense of showing no natural affection, or shutting off their true affections. It is hypocritical love if they are able to shut off love for family just to avoid contact with a disfellowshipped person. The paragraph in the Bible just before the one quoted above starts out:

  • (Romans 12:9) 9 Let your love be without hypocrisy. . . .

Based on this idea, there is another way to read the entire idea about Biblical disfellowshipping:

  • (2 Corinthians 6:3-13) 3 In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, so that no fault may be found with our ministry; 4 but in every way we recommend ourselves as God’s ministers, . . .  by patience, by kindness, by holy spirit, by love free from hypocrisy, 7 by truthful speech,. . .  11 We have opened our mouth to speak to you, Corinthians, and we have opened wide our heart. 12 We are not restricted in our affections for you, but you are restricted in your own tender affections for us. 13 So in response—I speak as to my children—you too open your hearts wide.
  • (Romans 1:28-2:1) 28 And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, . . . malicious disposition, . . . haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, . . . having no natural affection, merciless. 32 Although these know full well the righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death, they not only keep on doing them but also consent with those practicing them. 2 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are, if you judge; for in the thing in which you judge another, you condemn yourself, inasmuch as you that judge practice the same things.

Remember, too, that Jesus said that Moses was allowed to give the law that Israelites could disfellowship their own wives only as a concession to their own hard-heartedness:

  • (Matthew 19:7-8 ) : “Why, then, did Moses direct giving a certificate of dismissal and divorcing her?” 8 He said to them: “Out of regard for your hard-heartedness, Moses made the concession to you of divorcing your wives,. . .

It's true that Christians should not "share" with evildoers, for what sharing do believers have with unbelievers, what sharing does light have with darkness. But this cannot mean completely avoiding them, or even a complete lack of association with them. Paul made this clear in the central, pertinent discussion of the topic:

  • (1 Corinthians 5:9-11) 9 In my letter I wrote you to stop keeping company with sexually immoral people, 10 not meaning entirely with the sexually immoral people of this world or the greedy people or extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world. 11 But now I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.

When a person accepts their disfellowshipping, and is no longer presenting himself or herself as a member of our faith, they are no longer calling themselves our brother. The most vocal ex-JWs make it all the more obvious that they are not calling themselves our brother. So they become just as a person of the world to us.

  • (Matthew 18:17) . . .. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.

Scripturally, however, that means that we are perfectly within our own rights to exercise the freedom of our Bible-trained conscience, to associate with them just as we would anyone else in the world. This does not necessarily mean close association, or "table fellowship" which was acceptance of these ones as an insider, related to us either as family or those related to us in the faith. Yet, we should consider that Jesus had "table fellowship" with sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, gentiles, and unclean persons, without condoning their sin. People found fault with his ministry but Jesus did not give any cause for stumbling through such table fellowship. (2 Cor 6:3,4 quoted above.)

There is sometimes an in-between step where a person still calls himself our brother, and we should still admonish him as our brother. Yet they are not fully walking in accordance with Christian teachings. These are the ones we "mark" --to withdraw our close association from them-- even though they are still considered brothers. Apparently, Paul especially had in mind greedy persons who wanted to remain in association for what they could get, not what they could share. They wanted the free food, as a key feature of Christianity was its open-hearted table fellowship, providing material food for the poor, the orphans, the widows, etc:

  • (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15) 6 Now we are giving you instructions, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother who is walking disorderly and not according to the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you should imitate us, because we did not behave in a disorderly way among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food free. On the contrary, by labor and toil we were working night and day so as not to impose an expensive burden on any one of you. 9 Not that we do not have authority, but we wanted to offer ourselves as an example for you to imitate. 10 In fact, when we were with you, we used to give you this order: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” 11 For we hear that some are walking disorderly among you, not working at all, but meddling with what does not concern them. 12 To such people we give the order and exhortation in the Lord Jesus Christ that they should work quietly and eat food they themselves earn. 13 For your part, brothers, do not give up in doing good. 14 But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked and stop associating with him, so that he may become ashamed. 15 And yet do not consider him an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.

It must have been frustrating, that some would just be no more than meddlers, taking and not finding ways to share, but Paul admonishes the Christians not to give up in doing good. [Good works included giving, sharing and distributing material goods.] I think that many ex-JWs are frustrated at the unchristian conduct of some Witnesses, but ex-JWs, too, should not give up in doing what is good if they wish to "heap fiery coals" and conquer evil with good. Most Witnesses probably need to "get out more" as it is, and seeing one's grandkids can only help to have a good effect in general, and help to open the hearts wider. Even if the ex-JW being shunned believes the Witness is a bad influence, the fact of a grandparent spending any time at all with a grandchild can only be a good influence on the grandparent.

Are we talking about the JW shunning that I am familiar with? If so, a JW parent will completely cut an exJW child off. Nothing more than well-being checkups. You know the gravity of that--it's not a minor thing. Christians shouldn't return evil for evil, but they also shouldn't reward bad behavior. There has to be a balance. And shunning of children goes beyond what can be tolerated--it is an immoral practice. A grandparent has no rights to see their grandchildren; it's actually a privilege and a blessing to be a part of their lives. It makes absolutely no sense for a person to reward their shunners with that opportunity.

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I am beginning to believe that ALL the Scriptures in the Bible, talking about how the "love of the greater number will cool off", and in the end times, a wide range of cruelties will be abundant, that it is talking about what is going on INSIDE the "Truth" ... not the world. We have been thoroughly trained, year after year after year ... to be able to turn family love and affection on and off ....on and off ..... on and off, with the "light switch" of disfellowshipping. We deeply love

This is a case of being "righteous overmuch" or "self-righteous" and "haughty" like the Pharisees. Paul put the ideas together in Romans quoted above: (Romans 1:28-2:1) 28 And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting,  . . . haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, . . . having no natural affection, merciless. 32 Although these know full well the righteous decree of God, tha

I have known several people disfellowshipped and reinstated multiple times. Forget about them for just two minutes .... what is the effect on US who deal with it? There is another word that we do not use to describe this cruel, brutal shunning practice by: 1.) Loving our Family unconditionally,  (assuming they are in fact lovable...) if they are approved by the Congregation Elders; 2.) Abhor them and treat them like they were dead if they are NOT approved by the Congregation

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1 hour ago, Noble Berean said:

Are we talking about the JW shunning that I am familiar with? If so, a JW parent will completely cut an exJW child off. Nothing more than well-being checkups. You know the gravity of that--it's not a minor thing. Christians shouldn't return evil for evil, but they also shouldn't reward bad behavior. There has to be a balance. And shunning of children goes beyond what can be tolerated--it is an immoral practice. A grandparent has no rights to see their grandchildren; it's actually a privilege and a blessing to be a part of their lives. It makes absolutely no sense for a person to reward their shunners with that opportunity.

There is only 3 forms of shunning/expelling, each faith practices either of the 3, be it Christian, Judaism and or Islam, but among Christianity, all 3 is in practice by each group, only 1 form of it is correct.

They do not completely cut off their child, as some, even former JWs have made claim to this only to be targeted by disgruntled JWs. When someone is expelled from a church, they are cut-off from church ties entirely, although can still attend, they are not allowed to partake and or be part of sermons and or some actions taken within the church, but family ties still remain, even regarding that of children. When the child is obviously older and dwells upon Apostasy, should he or she chooses that path, family ties still remain, but there will be a clear atmosphere when it comes to those who practice a faith vs. those who are interfaith and or is disgruntled towards the faith.

Just because one is expelled and or shunned, it does not stop someone from taking action to go to visit a relative and or a friend, mainly when the one who is both expelled and shunned is not an Apostate or one who spreads interfaith division among the fold.

But as I said before, it expelling/shunning is indeed a problem to you, you'd have to speak on against what Binding and Loosening mean, for I can assure you if Jesus never had entrusted the church with such abilities, expelling/shunning would not be a thing at all, but you have to come to the realization as to why excommunication/shunning commands exist.

I also said you it is not as bad as the Herem version whereas all ties of any sort is completely cut off from the church, the people, the family, even the town/community as a whole, and you are not even allowed inside a place of worship at all.

But it does make me curious, of which of Jesus commanded and what the Apostles, even Paul practiced, in your eyes, what is the right form of expelling/shunning practices among the 3 major ones you profess?

I had another source, but I have to look for it, this is the best I can do for now: 

    Hello guest!

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4 hours ago, Noble Berean said:

Are we talking about the JW shunning that I am familiar with? If so, a JW parent will completely cut an exJW child off. Nothing more than well-being checkups. You know the gravity of that--it's not a minor thing.

I thought we were talking about the same thing. And I'm not saying that what some in the congregation do isn't "evil" in some sense. The policy itself can be implemented in a terrible way, especially in cases where the peer pressure coming from convention talks, CO visit counsel, and WTS videos makes it nearly impossible for the Witness to do the scripturally right thing in their own circumstance. (And I'm not saying that all shunning is necessarily bad, either. I'm pretty sure I would shun a close relative perpetrating child sexual abuse, for example.)

3 hours ago, Space Merchant said:

Christians shouldn't return evil for evil, but they also shouldn't reward bad behavior. There has to be a balance. And shunning of children goes beyond what can be tolerated--it is an immoral practice.

For the most part I agree. But part of that balance is recognizing that Jehovah makes it rain upon both the righteous and the unrighteous. The principle might be that an exJW allows himself to be wronged, and still does a good thing for the grandparent of their own children. After all, we must be talking about a case where the parent of the exJW must still ask permission to see their grandchildren. The grandparent may be wrong in shunning their own child, but they are not wrong to want to see their grandchildren. The exJW would naturally want to make sure there are ground rules since the exJW is still the spiritual head of their own household, and responsible to see to the physical, emotional and spiritual welfare of their own children. They would likely request that the grandparent not attempt to take over that role in any way, and that they never say anything that is in the least bit judgmental about the grandchildren's own parents. And although it might not seem fair, the exJW will still have every right to help their child make a correct judgment call about this particular unchristian aspect of the behavior of the child's grandparents who unlovingly shun their own child. (Although I'd think they would not wish to burden the child with such issues until their child is ready to understand that this is strange and unloving behavior on the part of the grandparent.)

The exJW, if they want to live a Christian life, will still wish to honor their mother and father, and just because they are shunned by the choice of their Witness parents, it does not mean that the exJW is under any such rules to shun their own parents. They should continue to do good for their unloving parents and show that they have no intention of following unchristian rules. The Witness parents will probably make a harsh ultimatum for their son/daughter, and the son/daughter should make it clear that this will reflect badly on the way their grandchildren will see them, and that it will just as likely reflect badly on Jehovah's name in the eyes of everyone who learns about it. The exJW should probably make it clear that he or she has no reason to hide this embarrassing situation and the unscriptural reasons for it, from their own children, or anyone else who might wonder about the strange situation. But I think that purposefully withholding a grandchild from a grandparent is done out of anger, not out of Christian motivation, or even a motivation to avoid rewarding bad conduct.

Of course, until someone is in this situation, no one can judge how correct, incorrect, or impractical this advice really is.

Still, although the grandparent may not have a "right" to see the grandchildren, I can think of some good, practical reasons to allow the visitation. It becomes a teaching moment. The kids will go to school wondering why other children have grandparents, or even two sets of grandparents, while they might wonder what a grandparent really is. The grandparent, by asking, is showing natural affection and can probably therefore be trusted to want to make a good impression on the grandchild so that there is very little danger that the child will not get some benefit from the experience. It will also likely create situations where the grandparent will be caught unable to shun their own child, which is another good thing.

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We all know that there are instances in which persons feign 'repentance' so as to become reinstated. The ruse succeeds. They are reinstated, and seemingly their banishment is over.

It seldom works that way. Their 'shunning' soon continues. It is not draconian shunning, but it was not draconian shunning in the first place. Necessary family business was never forsaken.

The pattern resumes, not because there is or is not a sanction, but because the faithful one limits association with one not showing appreciation for spiritual things when it is thought he/she should know better.

Opposers have noted this and they are furious with the mindset that determines this, when the disfellowshipping arrangement itself becomes a non-issue due to reinstatement. At root, it is a matter of Christians loving God more than man, and wanting to stay separate from the world, the only position from which it feels it can lend it a helping hand. Opposers don't want to see that separation. They read an unspoken judgement into it.

 

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1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

We all know that there are instances in which persons feign 'repentance' so as to become reinstated. The ruse succeeds. They are reinstated, and seemingly their banishment is over.

I haven't seen this so much. And, of course, it also implies that the elders are easily fooled by claims of repentance. You go on to say that the ruse doesn't really work and they get shunned again although reinstated. I have seen a few situations which, if representative of anything, would imply quite the opposite of what you seem to claim here.

1 hour ago, TrueTomHarley said:

It is not draconian shunning, but it was not draconian shunning in the first place. Necessary family business was never forsaken.

Draconian shunning is usually reserved for 'apostasy' and is rationalized as especially excusable, even demanded, when it has the organizational backing of the "DF" label. Often, necessary family business really is completely forsaken, including weddings, funerals, medical care, and family businesses brought to failure due to abandonment by the Witness partner who did not wish to be unevenly yoked with unbelievers. But I also know of cases where the Witness considers all debts to the DF'd to now be cancelled, and more recently a request for "permission" to suspend the shunning just long enough to fight an estate will that might bring advantage to the Witness.

But here is where anecdotal experiences I have heard, more clearly diverge from your example:

There are cases, you have probably seen them, where two siblings or a married couple have have shown themselves to be apostates, by claiming that the JWs are a cult, that the FDS/GB is a made-up construct, that we don't follow the Bible, etc., etc. But for some reason, only one of the two was disfellowshipped. There is absolutely no known difference between the beliefs of two siblings, or the two married persons. The Witness relatives will use the DF label as the reason to shun one of them, as expected. But the lack of the DF label is the excuse to continue associating with the other, as if nothing had happened.

Many, perhaps even most Witnesses are reasonable and don't shun in a draconian way, and some don't even shun at all, and things seem to go on normally. But it is true that if they are caught not shunning, they could end up being counseled by the elders themselves, which in rare cases could lead to disfellowshipping if their reasons for continuation of not shunning do not align with the reasons expected. The person could say to the elders that there are special circumstances, such as mental illness or physical handicap, and they must continue to associate so that a stable mental or emotional state of the exJW is maintained. All elders I know would give a "dispensation," and say, that's fine, just don't advertise it, or make a big deal about the exception. But if the person being counseled for the very same reasons in the very same circumstances will say that they believe the FDS/GB must be wrong on this point because the Bible demands mercy in such cases, this will lead to a discussion of why they don't fully accept the FDS, the organization, Jehovah's arrangement, and depending on the elders, could easily lead to the Witness holding their ground according to their conscience, and being disfellowshipped themselves.

I don't say these things lightly. I was personally involved in a case where I risked making that exception and my wife and I took care of a 90-some year old long-time Witness named Percy Harding. I'll give his name because it's been discussed elsewhere. He attended the same Kingdom Hall as my brother attended in Brooklyn, while I lived in the adjacent borough of Queens. The old brother, a colporteur under Russell and Rutherford's time in the WTS, had grown a bit cantankerous in his old age and thought the FDS was overstepping its bounds in some of the claims that tended to draw an equivalence between the rules of the organization and "the Lord." But he loved the brothers and didn't want to be disfellowshipped. My brother's best friend, and best man at his wedding, was married to a nurse. They were both Witnesses, of course, and when Percy was disfellowshipped, the nurse was threatened with disfellowshipping herself if she continued to care for the old man. (He was nearly bedridden, and Witnesses were dropping off his groceries for him, and two Witness sisters, one of whom was a nurse, were visiting him about 4 times a week.) The husband balked at this threat, and he was threatened with disfellowshipping, too. My brother had the idea that my wife could take over as one of the sisters because she worked in Brooklyn at 144 Livingston, not far from Percy's house on President St, just off 4th Ave, a few blocks away. Also, I often drove through Brooklyn for my job in NYC (Manhattan). I also had a few friends at Bethel who would give me a pass, a dispensation, if I explained my reasons in a careful way.

We ended up taking care of him for a couple of years, and enjoying our visits with him. Unfairly, my wife would cook and clean, and I would help him manage some of his physical therapy and toilet, and listen to stories about Russell and Rutherford. These were usually positive, upbuilding stories, but he pulled no punches when he disagreed with something. (He said that the WTS went through a time under Rutherford when equating the WTS with 'the Lord' was even more blatant and explicit.)

He finally died with NO OTHER WITNESSES daring to visit him. But I did see several exJWs who had learned of his case and who helped ease the burden by helping to take care of him.

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2 minutes ago, TrueTomHarley said:

Somewhere there is an example of if a DF person was stranded with a flat tire that comes to mind.

*** w74 8/1 p. 467 par. 6 Maintaining a Balanced Viewpoint Toward Disfellowshiped Ones ***

  • But consider a less extreme situation. What if a woman who had been disfellowshiped were to attend a congregational meeting and upon leaving the hall found that her car, parked nearby, had developed a flat tire? Should the male members of the congregation, seeing her plight, refuse to aid her, perhaps leaving it up to some worldly person to come along and do so? This too would be needlessly unkind and inhumane. Yet situations just like this have developed, perhaps in all good conscience, yet due to a lack of balance in viewpoint.

 

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@TrueTomHarley, That was 1974. And you'll notice that one of the reasons was the reproach it would bring on the organization when a worldly person would be the only one to see that the woman would be treated kindly and humanely. Because the person would be parked close to the Kingdom Hall, the worldly person would instantly make the association that these people do not have love among themselves, a mark of true disciples. What if the worldly person had influence in the community?

But there were cycles oscillating back and forth between strictly shunning family members and relaxing the rules a bit in favor of mercy, then going right back to tightening up the rules again when considered too loose.

The time of the "Inquisition" as it was called at Bethel in late 1979 and early 1980 up through the resignation and later DFing of R.Franz, was a time of very strict 'straining of gnats.' Congregations on their own would probably tend toward the 1974 article, but Percy's DFing came from Bethel elders.

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9 hours ago, James Thomas Rook Jr. said:

This is cruel, mean, extreme, despicable,  hateful, and hypocritical .... and does not lend itself to sane thinking.

I often chalk up your statements as hyperbole-laden rants. But this I must agree with whole-heartedly. One can make an argument that our process is actually Biblical, but then Jesus said it was OK to throw out some of those legalistic principles in favor of love and mercy.

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Unfortunately, the FIRST responsibility of Witch Doctors. Shamans, Priests, Clergy, Elders, and THE Governing Body ... is to protect their own jobs, power and authority, real estate, and money.

This is how religions have ALWAYS evolved, once they start accumulating real estate and piles of money ... and start dressing well.

We are NOT the exception.

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      Peu après avoir été diplômé, cet homme ainsi que sa femme se sont mis à étudier la Bible avec les Témoins de Jéhovah. Dans la Parole de Dieu, ils ont peu à peu trouvé les réponses qui leur manquaient. Ils ont appris à connaître le Créateur, Jéhovah Dieu. En étudiant ce qui est arrivé à Moïse à la mer Rouge, à Daniel et à ses compagnons à Babylone, ils ont appris l’importance de craindre Dieu, et non les hommes (Exode 14:10-31; Daniel 3:8-30). Cette crainte pieuse mêlée d’un amour sincère pour Jéhovah a commencé à les animer. Rapidement, leur vie a changé. Enfin cet homme connaissait Celui dont il avait étudié l’œuvre en biologie. Il a progressivement compris le dessein de Celui dont il avait constaté la sagesse dans ses cours de physique. Au lieu d’employer sa connaissance à élaborer des instruments de destruction, il a choisi, avec sa femme, d’aider autrui à aimer Dieu et son prochain. Ils ont entrepris le service de prédicateurs du Royaume de Dieu à plein temps. Par la suite, ils ont suivi les cours de Galaad, l’École biblique de la Société Watchtower, et ont été nommés missionnaires.
      Bien entendu, tout le monde ne peut pas être missionnaire. Mais tous nous pouvons bénéficier de la sagesse fondée sur la crainte de Jéhovah. Si nous cultivons cette sagesse, nous ne consacrerons pas le meilleur de notre vie à étudier les philosophies humaines, qui n’échafaudent que des suppositions sur le but de la vie. Nous nous appliquerons à l’étude de la Bible, livre inspiré de Jéhovah Dieu, la Source de la vie, celui qui peut nous donner la vie éternelle (Psaume 36:9; Colossiens 2:8). Au lieu de nous rendre esclaves d’un système commercial chancelant, au bord de la ruine, nous écouterons Jéhovah, qui nous conseille de nous contenter de la nourriture et du vêtement, et d’accorder à nos relations avec lui la priorité dans notre existence (1 Timothée 6:8-12). Au lieu de nous comporter comme si notre avenir dépendait d’une belle situation dans le monde actuel, nous croirons la Parole de Jéhovah, qui nous affirme que le monde est en train de passer, de même que le désir du monde, alors que celui qui fait la volonté divine demeure pour toujours. — 1 Jean 2:17.
      Dans le livre de Proverbes 16:16, Salomon nous encourage par cette déclaration certaine: “Acquérir la sagesse [la sagesse qui commence par la crainte de Jéhovah], oh! combien cela vaut mieux que l’or! Et acquérir l’intelligence est préférable à l’argent.” Poussés par cette sagesse et cette intelligence, nous considérerons l’accomplissement de la volonté de Dieu comme le premier centre d’intérêt de notre vie. Et quelle activité Dieu a-t-il confiée à ses Témoins en cette période de l’histoire humaine? Faire connaître son Royaume par la prédication et aider les personnes sincères à devenir de vrais disciples de Jésus Christ (Matthieu 24:14; 28:19, 20). Il s’agit d’une activité dont on retire une satisfaction véritable et un grand bonheur. C’est donc à propos que la Bible dit: “Heureux l’homme qui a trouvé la sagesse, et l’homme qui acquiert le discernement.” — Proverbes 3:13.
      Elle nous retient de commettre le mal
      Un deuxième bienfait que nous procure la crainte de Dieu est qu’elle nous retient de commettre le mal. Celui qui respecte profondément Dieu ne détermine pas par lui-même ce qui est bien et mal. Il ne tient pas pour mauvais ce que Dieu déclare bon, ni ne considère comme bon ce que Dieu déclare mauvais (Psaume 37:1, 27; Ésaïe 5:20, 21). De plus, celui que motive la crainte pieuse ne se contente pas de savoir ce que Jéhovah déclare bon ou mauvais. Une telle personne aime ce que Jéhovah aime et elle hait ce que Jéhovah hait. En conséquence, elle agit en harmonie avec les préceptes divins. Ainsi, comme le dit Proverbes 16:6, “par la crainte de Jéhovah, on se détourne du mal”. Cette crainte pieuse devient une motivation puissante qui permet d’atteindre des résultats qu’on n’obtiendrait pas même si une personne commence tout juste à l’éprouver, la crainte pieuse peut lui donner le courage de ne pas faire quelque chose qu’elle regretterait le restant de ses jours. Au Mexique, par exemple, une femme enceinte a demandé à une chrétienne Témoin de Jéhovah ce qu’elle pensait de l’avortement. La chrétienne lui a lu plusieurs versets bibliques, puis lui a tenu ce raisonnement: “Pour le Créateur, la vie est très importante, même la vie de ceux qui ne sont pas encore nés.” (Exode 21:22, 23; Psaume 139:13-16). Des examens laissaient entendre que le bébé serait anormal. Néanmoins, après ce qu’elle avait vu dans la Parole de Dieu, cette femme a décidé de garder son enfant. Son médecin a refusé de la revoir, et son mari l’a menacée de la quitter, mais elle a tenu bon. Elle a finalement donné naissance à une magnifique petite fille, normale et en bonne santé. Par gratitude, elle a recherché les Témoins et s’est mise à étudier la Parole de Dieu avec eux. Moins d’un an après, son mari et elle se faisaient baptiser. Quelques années plus tard, à une assemblée de district, tous deux ont été enchantés de rencontrer la chrétienne qui avait parlé à la femme la première fois. Ils lui ont présenté leur jolie fillette de quatre ans. Incontestablement, le respect de Dieu et le désir puissant de ne pas lui déplaire exercent une grande influence.
      La crainte pieuse peut nous garder d’un grand nombre de mauvaises actions (2 Corinthiens 7:1). Cultivée avec soin, elle est capable d’aider quelqu’un à mettre un terme à des péchés cachés, connus de lui seul et de Jéhovah. Elle peut l’aider à se libérer de la dépendance de l’alcool ou de la drogue. Un ancien drogué d’Afrique du Sud a raconté: “Au fur et à mesure que j’apprenais à connaître Dieu, la crainte de le décevoir ou de lui déplaire grandissait en moi. Je savais qu’il m’observait, et je désirais ardemment son approbation. Cela m’a incité à me débarrasser de la drogue qui était en ma possession en la jetant dans les toilettes.” La crainte pieuse a aidé des milliers de personnes de la même manière. — Proverbes 5:21; 15:3.
      La crainte salutaire de Dieu nous préserve également de la crainte de l’homme. La plupart des humains connaissent, à des degrés divers, la crainte de l’homme. Les apôtres de Jésus Christ l’ont abandonné et se sont enfuis lorsque les soldats se sont emparés de lui dans le jardin de Gethsémané. Plus tard, dans la cour du grand prêtre, désarçonné et en proie à la crainte, Pierre a nié faire partie des disciples de Jésus et même le connaître (Marc 14:48-50, 66-72; Jean 18:15-27). Mais grâce à l’aide qu’ils ont reçue, les apôtres ont retrouvé leur équilibre spirituel. Par contre, aux jours du roi Jéhoïakim, Urie, fils de Schémaïah, fut terrassé par la crainte au point d’abandonner son service de prophète de Jéhovah et de fuir le pays, ce qui ne l’empêcha pas d’être capturé et tué. — Jérémie 26:20-23.
      Comment vaincre la crainte de l’homme? 
      Après nous avoir prévenus que “trembler devant les hommes, voilà ce qui tend un piège”, Proverbes 29:25 ajoute: “Mais celui qui se confie en Jéhovah sera protégé.” La réponse tient donc dans la confiance en Jéhovah. Cette confiance s’appuie sur la connaissance et l’expérience. L’étude de sa Parole nous démontre que les voies de Jéhovah sont droites. Nous découvrons des événements attestant qu’il est digne de confiance, que ses promesses sont sûres (y compris celle de la résurrection), qu’il est amour et qu’il est tout-puissant. Lorsqu’ensuite nous agissons conformément à cette connaissance, accomplissant ce que Jéhovah demande et rejetant fermement ce qu’il condamne, nous commençons à constater dans notre propre cas qu’il prend soin de ses serviteurs avec amour et que l’on peut compter sur lui. Nous acquérons personnellement la certitude que sa puissance est à l’œuvre pour que s’accomplisse sa volonté. Notre confiance en lui s’accroît, de même que notre amour pour lui et notre désir sincère de ne pas lui déplaire. Cette confiance est bâtie sur un fondement solide. Elle est un rempart contre la crainte de l’homme.
      Notre confiance en Jéhovah, alliée à la crainte pieuse, nous rendra fermes en faveur du bien dans le cas où un employeur menacerait de nous renvoyer si nous refusions de participer à des pratiques commerciales malhonnêtes (voir Michée 6:11, 12). Grâce à cette crainte pieuse, des milliers de chrétiens persévèrent dans le vrai culte malgré l’opposition de membres de leur famille. Elle donne aussi aux jeunes le courage de se faire connaître comme Témoins de Jéhovah à l’école, et elle les affermit face aux moqueries de leurs camarades de classe qui méprisent les principes bibliques. Ainsi, une adolescente Témoin de Jéhovah a dit: “Ce qu’ils pensent m’est bien égal. L’important, c’est ce que pense Jéhovah.”
      La même conviction donne aux vrais chrétiens la force de rester attachés aux voies de Jéhovah lorsque leur vie est en jeu. Ils savent qu’ils risquent d’être persécutés par le monde. Ils sont conscients que les apôtres ont été fouettés et que même Jésus Christ a été frappé et tué par des hommes méchants (Marc 14:65; 15:15-39; Actes 5:40; voir aussi Daniel 3:16-18). Mais les serviteurs de Jéhovah sont assurés qu’il peut leur donner la force d’endurer, qu’avec son aide ils peuvent remporter la victoire, que Jéhovah récompensera sans faute ses fidèles, si besoin en les ressuscitant dans son monde nouveau. Leur amour pour Dieu ajouté à la crainte pieuse les pousse puissamment à éviter toute action qui pourrait lui déplaire.
      C’est parce qu’ils étaient animés d’une telle motivation que les Témoins de Jéhovah ont supporté les horreurs des camps de concentration nazis dans les années 30 et 40. Ils ont pris à cœur le conseil de Jésus consigné en Luc 12:4, 5: “D’autre part, je vous le dis à vous, mes amis: Ne craignez pas ceux qui tuent le corps, et qui après cela ne peuvent rien faire de plus. Mais je vais vous indiquer qui vous devez craindre: craignez celui qui, après avoir tué, a le pouvoir de jeter dans la Géhenne. Oui, je vous le dis, Celui-là, craignez-le.” Par exemple, Gustav Auschner, un Témoin qui avait été interné dans le camp de concentration de Sachsenhausen, a écrit plus tard: ‘Les SS ont exécuté August Dickmann et ont menacé de nous passer tous par les armes si nous refusions de signer un document par lequel nous abjurions notre foi. Pas un seul n’a signé. Notre crainte de déplaire à Jéhovah était plus forte que la crainte de leurs balles.’ La crainte de l’homme mène aux compromis, mais la crainte de Dieu nous affermit pour faire le bien.
      La préservation de la vie
      Noé a connu les derniers jours du monde antédiluvien. Jéhovah avait décidé de détruire le monde d’alors en raison de la méchanceté des humains. Toutefois, en attendant, Noé a vécu dans un monde où régnaient la violence, l’immoralité sexuelle choquante et le mépris de la volonté divine. Noé a prêché la justice, et pourtant “ils ne s’aperçurent de rien jusqu’à ce que le déluge vînt et les emportât tous”. (Matthieu 24:39.) Noé n’a cependant pas renoncé à l’activité que Dieu lui avait confiée. Il fit “selon tout ce que Dieu lui avait ordonné. Ainsi fit-il”. (Genèse 6:22.) Qu’est-ce qui a permis à Noé, année après année et jusqu’au déluge, de toujours agir comme il convenait? Hébreux 11:7 répond: “Par la foi, Noé, divinement averti de choses qu’on ne voyait pas encore, fit montre d’une crainte pieuse.” Pour cette raison, sa femme, ses fils, leurs femmes et lui ont été sauvés du déluge.
       Notre époque ressemble de bien des manières à celle de Noé (Luc 17:26, 27). De nouveau un avertissement est lancé. Révélation 14:6, 7 parle d’un ange qui vole au milieu du ciel et invite les gens de toute nation et tribu et langue à ‘craindre Dieu et à lui donner gloire’. Quel que puisse être le comportement du monde autour de vous, obéissez à ces paroles, puis transmettez l’invitation à autrui. À l’instar de Noé, agissons avec foi et manifestons une crainte pieuse. Par cela, des vies peuvent être sauvées: la vôtre et celle de nombre de vos semblables. Lorsque nous considérons les bienfaits dont profitent ceux qui craignent le vrai Dieu, nous ne pouvons que souscrire aux paroles du psalmiste divinement inspiré qui chanta: 
      “Heureux est l’homme qui craint Jéhovah, dans les commandements de qui il prend grand plaisir!” — Psaume 112:1.

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    • Darlene  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      I can not open study material 
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    • Darlene  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Can not open weekly study material 
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